Genex to add more solar and wind to pumped hydro after Queensland funds new link

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Queensland government to tip $132m into new transmission line linking pumped hydro facility with main grid in move that will open up more wind and solar capacity.

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Genex Power’s landmark Kidston Pumped Hydro project has received a major boost, with the Queensland government pledging to tip $132 million into construction of a transmission line, linking the renewables hub with the main grid.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Palaszczuk government said Powerlink would build a 186km single circuit line from the Kidston project to Mount Fox near Ingham, linking the hinterland to the National Electricity Market.

It’s a crucial step forward for the world-leading project, which will co-locate the 250MW pumped hydro facility, with about eight hours of storage, with an existing 50MW solar farm and a planned second stage 270MW solar farm.

In its own statement on Wednesday, Genex welcomed the “significant” funding package as a “key external” ingredient to complete financing and commence construction of the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project Transmission Line.

Genex CEO James Harding said the state government support it would also help unlock further stages for the Kidston Clean Energy Hub, including the additional 270MW of solar and up to 150MW of wind.

For the state-owned Powerlink, the Kidston pumped hydro storage will make a welcome addition to the rapidly changing grid.

“Connecting 250MW of pumped hydro capacity will help make the North Queensland electricity network more reliable,” said state energy minister Anthony Lynham in comments on Wednesday.

“Building this breakthrough 186 kilometre transmission line and associated infrastructure will create 400 jobs over two years,” he said.

“The Genex project itself will have a peak construction workforce of about 500 people per annum for the first two years, 250 in the final year and 30 permanent operational jobs.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad took the opportunity to take a swipe at the federal Coalition – although the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has previously committed $610 million of “concessional finance” for Kidston.

“In the absence of a federal energy policy, Queensland is once again doing the heavy lifting by backing projects like Genex at Kidston,” Trad said.

“The evidence from the market is clear – industry sees the benefits of renewable energy and is putting its money on the table.

“What’s needed now is the means to connect these emission-free projects to the grid and get the power to where it’s needed.”

Genex’s Harding said the Queensland government funding package complemented the project loan extended by the NAIF.

“We would like to thank the Queensland government for their support and look forward to continuing to work together over the coming weeks to finalise arrangements for this important increment to a stable electricity network in North Queensland, which will secure power supply to local communities and unlock further clean energy generation in the region,” he said.

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